VI Conducts Earthquake and Tsunami Response Exercise

Today the Virgin Islands joined other localities in the Northwest Atlantic as a participant in LANTEX '12, an earthquake and tsunami response exercise, that has been held annually since 2009.

This year’s exercise focused on testing the national alert and broadcasting system as well as the preparedness level. The exercise provided a simulated tsunami warning, watch and advisory messages from the West Coast Alaska Tsunami Warning Centre (WCATWC) and the Puerto Rico Seismic Network (PRSN) based on a magnitude 7.7 earthquake that caused a large underwater landslide located SE of Myrtle Beach, North Carolina.  As a result of this hazard impact a Tsunami warning was issued at 10:36 am.

This exercise provided an opportunity for individuals and organisations to test their plans and procedures, operational lines of communications and to promote earthquake/tsunami awareness and preparedness.

Training Officer at the DDM, Carishma Hicks said, “We have been planning this exercise for the past two months and it was our intention to test all national alert and broadcast systems, evaluate the preparedness levels of the public and private businesses and the Territory on a whole.  We also evaluated how the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force would secure key government officials who would be needed in the response and recovery phases. These exercises are especially important as they help to identify weaknesses in plans and procedures.”

As part of the exercise the DDM sounded the seven siren units located throughout the Territory. The National Emergency Broadcast System was activated and allowed for a test message to be sent simultaneously from the National Emergency Operations Centre to ZROD, ZBVI, ZKING and ZCCR and Cable TV Channel 51.  In addition, 52 Smart radios located in schools, clinics, national parks posts, police and fire stations were activated providing a warning tone and a message which was designed to trigger an evacuation of these facilities.  The DDM also utilised its VHF and HF radio frequencies to send information to over 100 stations monitoring the network and to boaters listening on channel 16. Contact was also made with regional partners including the PRSN.

Ms. Hicks further said, “We were pleased with the response from those that participated in this year’s exercise. Evaluators were strategically positioned to record their actions that will help in providing advice on how plans and procedures can be improved. We were especially pleased that the Sunsail, Foot Loose and The Moorings participated and responded in keeping with procedures, recommended for this type of event, however, far too many businesses are not taking advantage of this life-saving tool.”

The DDM wishes to convey thanks to all agencies, both Government and Private Sector that participated in this year's exercise. We wish to especially thank the many volunteers who assisted the Department both in the planning and execution phases. The LANTEX Exercise was carried out Territory-wide to include the Sister Islands as well as the boating community.

The Department is encouraging the public to provide feedback on the exercise by logging on to DDM’s website at www.bviddm.com and completing the public opinion survey. This information will be collated and used to assist the Department and other agencies in improving their alert and response capabilities.

CDEMA Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency. Resilience Way, Lower Estate, St. Michael Tel: (246) 434-4880, Fax: (246) 271-3660
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